Baltic Cruise: Iceland

On our way back home, we had a 11 hour layover in KEF (Reykjavík–Keflavík), Iceland. With deplaning/reboarding/customs/security/car rental, that meant there was effectively 8 hours to do everything. What could we do with that short time? Most recommended a stop at the Blue Lagoon for dip in the blue hot springs and a mud mask, but while that looked pretty different, that wasn’t going to give us any time for much else (plus, paying to spend time in a public pool isn’t very appealing to me). Prices around here are sky high, especially a car rental for the day, more if you can’t drive stick.

Due to major time constraints and budget, for our lunch choice was a combination sushi and maki tray from Costco with $10 fish dinner at IKEA; I enjoyed the sushi more. I do wish our Costcos sold sushi (Hawaii sells poke at their Costcos!)

Sushi & maki rolls for lunch; our first sushi meal on our trip!

What I didn’t expect was how cold it was in contrast to all the places we had just visited; the wind made it especially cold and the only clean pair of pants I had left were capris, which made for a very poor choice of leg coverings.

As we made our way to various stops along the Golden Circle, it reminded me of two places: certain routes in Hawaii and Newfoundland, with far less crowds in Newfoundland in shoulder season! We didn’t have time to stop at everything, so we relied on a book that we borrowed from the library to pick a few stops and quick roadside pullouts along the way:

  1. Strokkur: this active geyser sprays warm steam and sulphur-based water every few minutes. Many people stood around this famous geyser waiting for it and we squeezed into an area that seemed to have more space. As the wind blew, we also felt the warmth of the steam on our backs, which was a nice contrast to the cold. Turns out that was the wet zone, which probably explained why less people congregated there. But at least it was warm water! A little boy told me that they were on their way to moving back to Ontario (from Germany?) before his mom pulled him away, probably for talking to strangers or bothering another tourist.
  2. Gullfoss waterfall: The wind and cold deterred me to hike to a spot closer to the edge of the waterfall, but just as well as we didn’t have very much time. The wind reminded me of the time we drove up and down the Haleakalla crater in Maui; I didn’t want to stay in any one spot for too long!
  3. Kerið (Kerid crater): the “hike” / walk down the crater is a fairly easy and safe one with maintained steps. The crater sits on privately owned land, so there was an entrance fee (around $10 CAD for the two of us). Perhaps the fee or the lack of washrooms at this stop was a deterrent for some, but that made it more enjoyable! The “walls” that surrounded the bottom blocked the wind so it was a nice contrast to almost being carried away at the top of the crater by the wind.

This was a beautiful last stop of our 10th-anniversary trip (1st longest one without kids thanks to my in-laws–and also best way to finally wean the little one)! Next time, we’ll have to spend more time here, but really, if you haven’t checked out Newfoundland yet, there’s really reason to go.

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